SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Cybersecurity trends 2017: What to expect in the year ahead

Tue 14 Feb 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

2016 Summary: To understand where we are, we must first look at where we came from   To say last year was a catastrophe in terms of combating cyber threats in Australia would be putting it lightly. Australia faced its worst ever year in terms of number, size and severity of attacks.    To think that the biggest and most damaging data breach in Australian history was done by running a simple IP scan using a tool that can be easily downloaded for free is quite frightening. 1.3 million donors dating back to 2013's medical records were exposed. The breach exposed personal details such as, health records, sexual history and contact details.

One of the major factors that occurred in 2016 that influenced the rapid progression of cyber security standards set by the government was the email phishing scam that cost the Brisbane City Council approximately $450,000. All the scammer did was trick the staff into wiring payments of a contractor into their own back account by sending emails posing as the contractor.  

The Big Problem: Reactive, not proactive   You must be thinking, "Wow! Seeing how easy it is for systems to be hacked, companies must surely be scurrying to make sure they are protected!" Unfortunately, that is not the case. Why? It's simple really! Human nature. Most people are reactive and not proactive when it comes to something new. People don't usually feel a threat until its right at their doorstep. This is especially true in a business environment. Executives have so much on their plates that new threats tend to go straight to the bottom of their to­-do list.  

It is too easy for hackers   Another issue is the lack of knowledge and understanding posed by having system vulnerabilities. Despite 80% of Australian companies believing they face an increased threat of cyber attack, 51% believe their organisation does not have the systems in place to detect a sophisticated attack.

A Global Information Security Survey done by EY found companies are lacking the agility, the budget and the skills to mitigate known vulnerabilities and successfully address cyber security. 50% of respondents said that their organisation’s total information security budget will stay approximately the same or decrease in the coming 12 months despite threats.

34% of organisations have no real time insight on cyber risks and 55% say that a lack of skilled resources is one of the main obstacles challenging their information security program with only 17% meeting all security operations requirements in house. Another issue is the reliance of scanners which any hacker can bypass. Some executives still think antivirus is enough to fight off hacks, which most companies don't even update and most hackers can work around. Most hacking techniques can bypass antivirus or go undetected.  

Business Basics: Technology adoption lifecycle   The technology adoption life­cycle is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. From a cyber security perspective, innovators would be (eg) hacker & programmers. Early adopters would be Government, Large corporations, cloud based system operators etc. Early majority SMEs. Late majority, general public. Laggards are those that do not use the internet as frequently.

What will drive change? As we begin the Early majority stage of cyber security, what will be the main driving forces for change?

  • Mandatory data breach reporting law with $3.8 million fine
  • Continuous increase in number, size and severity of data breaches
  • Lawsuits
  • General public awareness and outrage
  • Difficulty to conduct business without firm security assurances  

Drivers of change: Mandatory data breach reporting After many years, the Australian government is now ready to change its privacy act due to increased cyber threats. The passing of long­awaited mandatory data breach notification laws through the House of Representatives is a clear indicator of this.

The bill passed through with bipartisan support on Tuesday (7 Feb 17), having been on the government's agenda since early 2015. Organisations will have to reveal if their systems are compromised by cyber attacks or technical failings.

Companies that are affected by the legislation included businesses with over $3 million in turnover, smaller firms that handle sensitive information and most government agencies. The concept of a mandatory data reporting scheme first emerged in 2008 when the Australian Law Reform Commission reviewed Australia's privacy laws and recommended its introduction. Under this law, failure to report a breach would incur a $1.8 million fine on a company and a $360K on an individual.  

Lawsuits: Once companies are forced to disclose more breaches, people who are affected are likely to file lawsuits if sensitive information is lost.

General public awareness and outrage: as more and more attacks occur and media focus increases, customers will demand evidence of IT security measures and those that do not have any in place would be highly scrutinised.

Difficulty to conduct business without firm security assurances: this will be due to the fact that companies with security measures will be less willing to deal with other companies unless they can assure them their systems are secure thus reducing third party vulnerabilities.

Irreparable brand damage: is also another factor which is hard for a company to recover from.  

Impact of a data breach: Ashley Madison: case study   In July 2015, a group calling itself "The Impact Team" stole the user data of Ashley Madison, a commercial website billed as enabling extramarital affairs. The group copied personal information about the site's user base and threatened to release users' names and personally identifying information if Ashley Madison was not immediately shut down. On 18 and 20 August, the group leaked more than 25 gigabytes of company data, including user details. 

Impact: Extortion. Following the hack, communities of internet vigilantes began combing through to find famous individuals, who they planned to publicly humiliate. France24 reported that 1,200 Saudi Arabian .sa email addresses were in the leaked database, and in Saudi Arabia adultery can be punished with death.

Several thousand U.S. .mil and .gov email addresses were registered on the site. In the days following the breach, extortionists began targeting people whose details were included in the leak, attempting to scam over US$200 worth of Bitcoins from them.

One company started offering a "search engine" where people could type email addresses of colleagues or their spouse into the website, and if the email address was on the database leak, then the company would send them letters threatening that their details were to be exposed unless they paid money to the company.

Suicide: On 24 August 2015, Toronto police announced that two unconfirmed suicides had been linked to the data breach, in addition to "reports of hate crimes connected to the hack." Unconfirmed reports say a man in the U.S. died by suicide. On 24 August 2015, a pastor and professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary committed suicide citing the leak that had occurred six days before.

Law suit: Users whose details were leaked filed a $567 million class ­action lawsuit against Avid Dating Life and Avid Media, the owners of Ashley Madison, through Canadian law firms Charney Lawyers and Sutts, Strosberg LLP.

Solution Penetration Testing

Tackling a company's cyber security is a huge task due to the multitude of ways a system can be infiltrated, especially for large multinationals. Therefore, a smart approach is to first determine a current security posture, find vulnerabilities and progress from there. This is achievable through conducting a Penetration test. A penetration test is an attempt to evaluate the security of an IT infrastructure by safely trying to exploit vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities may exist in operating systems, service and application flaws, improper configurations, or risky end ­user behaviour. These should be done at least quarterly with security audits. Companies that use credit card information should also make sure they adhere to the correct PCI Compliance standards.

Managed Security Services A penetration test is the best first step as it brings a company's cyber security to current standards. However, Cyber security is a rapidly developing field where new threats are found every day.

Think of it this way. Its like a game of cat and mouse but instead of trying to catch a mouse you are chasing after a ghost who probably knows how your system works better than you do. On average, for every 2500 lines of code there is at least 1 vulnerability.

An iPhone has about 8 million lines of code. That's 3200 lines of code waiting to be exploited, hence all the annoying system updates and bug fixes. And that is the perfect example of how constant cyber security should be done. This is however very expensive to do due to the equipment required and the demand for trained professionals with the capability to perform these tasks.

Thus the best solution is managed security services. This is live monitoring by IT Security specialists gives an unprecedented view into attacks, providing threat data and real­time analysis to provide powerful protection.       Article by Panashe Muzenda, Cybernetic Global Intelligence.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Infoblox's State of Security Report spotlights Australian remote work hazards
Attackers exploit weak WiFi, remote endpoints, and the cloud, costing 50% of organisations over $1.3 million in breach damages.
Story image
Cybersecurity
BlackBerry offers Kaspersky replacement cybersecurity for the channel
BlackBerry advises that users of Kaspersky software in Australia and New Zealand undertake a rigorous risk analysis of their current security posture.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Malware
Use of malware, botnets and exploits expands in Q1 2022
"As zero-day attacks and other vulnerabilities among companies like Google and Microsoft come to light, threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics."
Story image
Forensics
Exterro adds advanced capabilities to digital forensic tool
The launch is in-line with Exterro’s investment in the FTK product line, and underscores the company's commitment to the digital forensics.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
trust
9/10 Aussies to stop spending if personal data compromised
"Based on the patterns we are seeing among Australian consumers, it is evident that trust in a brand is exceptionally important."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Three key security challenges facing the Australian insurance industry 
Insurance companies must ensure they proactively address security challenges and protect the privacy of customer data.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Firewall
Sophos named Gartner Peer Insights Customers Choice for network firewalls
The company earned the highest overall customer rating among vendors with at least 150 verified customer reviews.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Phishing
KnowBe4 celebrates reaching 50,000 customers worldwide
KnowBe4 has reached the milestone of 50,000 customers, adding nearly 2,500 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Surveillance
Genetec launches new enclosure management system for data centers
Genetec has released a new enclosure management solution that will give data centers the ability to secure, monitor and manage access to racks and cabinets remotely.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from IronNet
Michael Ehrlich joins us today to discuss the history of IronNet and the crucial role the company plays in the cyber defence space.
Story image
Training
Fortinet training edges toward closing cybersecurity gap
The Fortinet Training Institute has made significant progress in closing the cybersecurity skills gap, on track to train one million people by 2026.
Story image
APAC
Odaseva expands in APAC and UK with more security features
Odaseva, a data platform for Salesforce, is establishing new headquarters in London as well as a new data center in India.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock releases Autonomous Access solution powered by AI
ForgeRock has officially introduced ForgeRock Autonomous Access, a new solution that uses AI to prevent identity-based cyber attacks and fraud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Companies rushing to secure print infrastructure
As the pandemic prioritised communication channels and the shift to remote work, IT departments fell behind in updating the security of print and IT infrastructure.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Blue Prism
Blue Prism Desktop uses IA to defend against vulnerabilities
SS&C Blue Prism Desktop aims to help protect businesses against vulnerabilities, using a combination of security measures and intelligent automation tech.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Malware
Sharp increase in phishing as cybercriminals leverage SEO to lure victims
"Malware lurking everywhere, from cloud apps to search engines, leaving organisations at greater risk than ever before."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Manufacturing
$1 million in cyber skills to stop $100 million in cybercrime
"It is important that the next generation across all industries, including manufacturing, are skilled in cybersecurity."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Updates from Google Workspace set to ease hybrid working troubles
Google Workspace has announced a variety of new features which will utilise Google AI capabilities to help make hybrid working situations more efficient and effective.
Story image
Ransomware
Ingram Micro Cloud adds Bitdefender solutions to marketplace
Ingram Micro Cloud has announced the expanded availability of Bitdefender solutions on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.
Story image
Cybersecurity
ThoughtLab reveals 10 best practices for cybersecurity in 2022
The benchmarking study reveals best practices that can reduce the probability of a material breach and the time it takes to find and respond to those that happen.
Story image
Appian
Appian awarded billions in damages against Pegasystems Inc.
Appian has been awarded USD$2.036 billion in damages against Pegasystems Inc as the result of a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Virginia.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Physical security systems guide the hybrid workplace to new heights
Organisations are reviewing how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect and enhance their business operations in unique ways.
Story image
Ransomware
Anniversaries remind us to review identity risks
World Password Day provides a timely reminder for ordinary citizens and organisations to stop and think about the risks associated with digital identities.
Story image
Training
HubSpot launches 'The Great Upskill' week to inspire learning
Brands across APAC including Google ANZ, MessageMedia, Meltwater, Seismic and Aircall, will give their employees a full workday to dedicate to upskilling.
Story image
Cybersecurity
HackerOne launches Attack Resistance Management solution
HackerOne has launched Attack Resistance Management - a new category of security solution that targets the root causes of the attack resistance gap. 
Story image
Workato
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."